The University as Text: Women and the University Context
Britta Santowski is a graduate student of English at the Memorial
University of Newfoundland.
In this critical look at women and the university, the author focuses
attention on linking theoretical feminist pedagogy with its practical
application at the university. Schick acknowledges many of the paradoxes
she encounters, including her dismantling of the patriarchal institution
of “knowledge” while being firmly seated within the walls of
academia. She concentrates instead on “reclaiming [her] voice as
authoritative” and valuing her own experience. Her text is
refreshingly personal: she cites her own journal entries to support her
“academic” research findings.
The first two chapters, “The Context for Reading and Writing” and
“The University as Text,”—the ones I found most interesting—she
introduce the problems imposed on nonwhites and nonmales by the
university’s tradition of working from a centralized base of white
male “truth” and “knowledge.” Based on her own experiences,
Schick raises questions about why so many woman remain silent in the
classroom while able to impart a wealth of knowledge in nonacademic
settings. Chapter 3, “Feminist Pedagogy and English Literature,”
discusses the value of a decentralized approach to teaching.
Unfortunately, there is little application of her theory to literature,
and very little to justify her selection of English literature instead
of, say, history or philosophy. Also disappointing is her failure to
include the works of French feminists such as Cixous or Brossard in her
discussion of “The Difference of Language.” The final chapter,
“The University as (Con)text,” deals largely with bridging the gap
between theory and application of the many approaches to feminist
pedagogy. Acknowledging that “feminist pedagogy cannot be a
prescription,” Schick offers a variety of approaches.
Schick effectively raises stimulating questions that challenge the
status quo of university education. Anyone interested in further
pursuing the theory and application of feminist pedagogy, specifically
as it applies to the university setting, will benefit from this text and
its extensive bibliography.